Thursday, June 12


Checking in from Olympia Fields



PHOTO FINISH
Brent Quigley
Brent Quigley escaped the water of Butterfield Creek, but couldn't save par.

ALSO AT OLYMPIA FIELDS
Brian Davis was feeling pretty good about himself four holes into his first U.S. Open.

The 28-year-old Englishman started his day eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie to get to 5-under and the lead.

Then things went bad. He made two double-bogeys and three bogeys -- including one at 18. But his 71 was good enough to leave him tied for 45th.

But Davis is worth more than a footnote. He's married to the former Julie Clemence, the daughter of a famous British goalkeeper (Ray Clemence). And he's been snake-bit before: In 1998, he missed five of six cuts on the European Tour, then contracted chicken pox on an airplane heading home. He spent a week in Dubai in intensive care to battle the illness. He also has what his biography calls "seriously high blood clot levels."

Suddenly, 6-over for his last 14 holes doesn't sound so bad.

Also Thursday:

  • Amateur Hunter Mahan started off well with birdies at the first, third and fourth holes. But he took a quadruple bogey at No. 5 and finished the day with a 75.

  • Scott McCarron went into Butterfield Creek barefoot (and in his rain suit) to save a penalty stroke at the 5th hole. He blasted into the fairway from a submerged lie and saved bogey.

  • Co-leader Brent Quigley also found the water at No. 7, but saved par. "It's a U.S. Open, I have to go in the water," Quigley said.
  • And You Are?
    Introducing Sergio Garcia. The new Sergio Garcia.

    You remember the one from last year's Open. The waggles. Martina Hingis on his arm. The one-finger salute to the New York fans. The final group on Sunday opposite Tiger Woods, which ended in a meltdown (74) that left him in fourth place.

    Little of that Garcia remains. The waggles are infrequent. Hingis isn't here. The only gestures are to admonish himself. The smile, always engaging, is always there.

    Garcia's game wasn't supposed to be here. He's completely changed his swing, trying to make it more consistent as he matures (Garcia is 23). That's caused him to reinvent his game -- painfully. He missed the cut in six of his last eight events and hasn't finished higher than 25th on the PGA Tour.

    Thursday, he birdied his first two holes and got to 3-under through 14. He made a pair of bogeys coming in -- including a 3-putt at 18 -- but 69 put him among the top 10 through 18 holes.

    "I'd like to be a bit more under par, becuase I think I deserved it," said Garcia, who made four birdies but bogeyed three holes, including two par-3s.

    Is he ready to say he's turned the corner?

    "I'm not going to come out and say I'm going to win after one good round," Garcia said. "I'm taking things slow. I haven't been playing as bad as everyone thinks the last couple of weeks."


    And you were...
    Not everybody scored well Thursday. Unless there's some Friday divine intervention -- or somebody gets really, really hot -- headed for a missed cut are: Billy Andrade (76, including a triple-bogey at No. 10 -- his first hole), Davis Love III (76, with six bogeys and a double), David Duval (78, with two double bogeys) and K.J. Choi (79, with six bogeys and two doubles).

    A year ago at Bethpage Black, the cut in the U.S. Open was at 10-over. If things remain as they were Thursday -- and they likely won't -- the cut would be at 2-over. The top 60 and ties advance to the weekend.


    OVERHEARD

    LEONARD
    "Golf doesn't drive me the way it used to. And I think marriage has a lot to do with that. We've got our first child on the way. Golf has become secondary or third. It doesn't drive my life. "

    WATSON
    "We are out there taking care of business, but he (caddie Bruce Edwards) had a few tears in his eyes. I tmade me cry, and so it was a very special day. A very special day."

    QUIGLEY
    "(A friend said) 'What's wrong with you. You should be winning five times a year. you're a great player. He said, 'You're an underachiever.' And that was kind of a slap in the face."



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